Why Dog Sports?
by Cathy Bates
The Dog World of today offers a myriad of diverse pastimes, hobbies and activities, capable of keeping even the most exuberant dogs and enthusiastic handlers occupied and challenged.
From team sports such as Flyball, to the solitary Shepherd and his faithful Collie, it's possible to find a sport to suit all types, sizes and ages, both canine and human.
Once you've engaged in one of these activities a whole new sphere of understanding and awareness of your canine companion begins to evolve and develop. The relationship we have with a dog we train and compete with, is unlike any it is possible to attain with a pet dog. Your dog becomes a true partner and comrade as your journey through initial training grows into a proficiency never previously imagined.
Dog activities fall into certain clearly defined fields, varied enough to provide something to catch most imaginations. Obedience, which evolved in the aftermath of World War II was initially a sport specifically for ex-servicemen with German Shepherd dogs.
Today Obedience appeals to a far wider section of Handlers and together with the new sport of Rally Obedience has managed to update its image, drawing many new and younger Handlers.
Scent work, once used solely by the Armed Forces and Police, in Drug and Weapon Detection, has developed into a competitive sport which also includes mantrailing and tracking, relying on the dog's natural abilities of nosework.
Agility, a relatively new sport, which began in the 1970s has as now spawned the even newer sport of Hoopers. A similar concept to Agility but in a low impact format, with the dogs running a flowing course of obstacles whilst being handled from a distance.
Heelwork to Music (HTM) has become a worldwide sport, its roots initially firmly set in Obedience, this is now developed into two quite separate disciplines of Heelwork and Freestyle.
These are probably the better known dog Sports but there are of course many others, including Parkour, Carting, Canicross and Disc Dogs. The one thing all these activities have in common is the provision of physical and mental stimulation, two vital components for the health and welfare of dogs, brains have the need to be exercised just as much as bodies and a dog which is given a job will flourish.
For us, dog sports can fulfil that same need. Dog Clubs up and down the country, run by willing volunteers, provide a wealth of experience and knowledge, coupled with friendship and mutual support.
All our dogs provide companionship and devotion, but participation in dog sports builds this bond as we strive to improve and work towards our goals as a Team.
But perhaps most of all, and for all involved, it's just pure good fun.